A public consultation has been launched seeking support for an “inspirational” alternative plan for an historic, centuries old boatyard.

Ten years ago the TQ9 Partnership secured planning permission to turn Baltic Wharf in Totnes into a mixed use development featuring new homes, a retirement village, commercial premises including offices and a restaurant/cafe/retail premises.

The first phase of 95 new homes was completed by Bloor Homes in 2014, and now TQ9 and developers Acorn Property are expected to submit a planning application for the remainder of the site within the next few weeks.

In November 2022, Totnes Town Council supported alternative proposals for the prime site that have been drawn up by district councillor for West Dart, John McKay.

Cllr McKay wants to turn the boatyard into a centre of marine excellence which he says has the potential to create hundreds of highly skilled and well paid jobs, which will benefit the local economy and ensure Totnes has a sustainable and resilient economic future.

South Hams Councillor John McKay ( )

In his report, the Lib Dem councillor says TQ9’s proposals are “mostly based around hosing, with the boatyard considerably reduced in size, and of questionable long term viability.”

Cllr McKay, Totnes district councillor John Birch and town councillor Georgina Allen have launched a campaign in a bid to secure support for Cllr McKay’s alternative future for the boatyard, and are asking residents to have their say too.

Speaking at the recent full town council meeting, Cllr Birch said there is already much support for Cllr McKay’s vision, and various local organisations are keen to hear more about it.

He said: “There is a real enthusiasm in the town to ensure that Baltic Wharf remains as a boatyard rather than just another big housing development.

“In taking it forward, it’s a case of mustering even more support for the campaign and making the voice heard, especially when it comes to Acorn putting forward its proposals.

“There is a viable alternative to just building houses at Baltic Wharf.”

Cllr Allen commended the campaign, adding: “The plan that Cllr McKay has created is really inspirational; it’s full of potential for the boatyard, potential employment and economic drive for the town. It’s really quite special.

“The boatyard is a very, very important place – it’s where Brutus was supposed to have arrived – but it’s not just a heritage asset or an amenity, it’s very much about the economics of the town.”

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson said Cllr McKay’s alternative plan was a strong tool with which to resist being “browbeaten” by developers.

“It’s really important that we do recognise the value in something like this,” she said.

“It’s not just about the difference between jobs and houses, it’s actually about resilience into the future because places that just fill up with residential lose their economic link and lose their resilience.

“Baltic Wharf is a really important part of what the town has been and what it could be into the future.

“We often succumb to the browbeating of developers, it’s sometimes difficult to stand up to the them. One of the strongest things you can do is come up with a positive proposal. Just saying no doesn’t do you any favours, but saying “this is what we want and this is what we all believe in” gives you a real structure to work within.”

Cllr McKay developed his proposals after discussions with a range of organisations including the Local Enterprise Partnership, British Marine Federation, Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority, Totnes Town Council and South Hams Council.

To find out more and to have your say visit www.balticwharf.org.uk